Israeli alliance campaign comparing Netanyahu to Erdoğan sparks fury

An ad campaign by an Israeli parliamentary group that compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sparked fury in the country’s ruling right-wing Likud party.

Likud Knesset member Gideon Sa’ar condemned the campaign by the centrist and liberal Blue and White political alliance, calling for an apology over the video that “crossed a red line”, Ynet news site reported on Wednesday.

“They compared him to a tyrant, one of the worst haters of Israel in this generation,” Sa’ar told the Israeli site. 

Turkey and Israel have had tense relations in recent years, in part because Erdoğan has presented himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and is an outspoken critic of the Israeli government.

The Turkish president has gone on record calling Netanyahu a “terrorist” and Israel a “terrorist state”, following the killing of 15 Palestinian protesters in mass rallies in 2018 along the Gaza-Israel border.

Erdoğan has also stated the protection of Jerusalem, which was recognised as Israel’s capital by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, is a red line for Turkey, and Ankara will never leave the holy city to the mercy of the occupying Israeli government.

“It’s very important that Blue and White distance themselves from this campaign, shelve it and apologise,” said Sa’ar, who has previously challenged Netanyahu for the Likud leadership and stands as a possible successor.